Monday, March 22, 2010

the many guises of happy sad

Ah, the many guises of Happy Sad. This past week has seen a sick, hand foot and mouth HS. A HS who totally duped her mama into rushing her to see the doctor. It itches mama! Owie! followed by frantic itchy body rubbing on the sofa. No appetite. Grouchy.

Even though we'd read everything online, it seemed time to bring her into the doctor. Not her normal doctor who was out of town, but some other lucky fellow. Now don't forget, HS LOVES the doctor. The elevator. The waiting room. The whole shebang.

By the time the doctor came in, Els had already charmed the pants off the nurse and earned herself two lollipops and two stickers. The complaining and itching was replaced by smiling and extreme articulation. When the doc arrived, Eliana proudly introduced herself:

Hi, I'm Eliana. This is my mommy, Gillian.
Wow. My two year old boy barely speaks. She's incredible.
Oh, is that your stethoscope?
Um, yes.
Oh! And that's the clean white paper on the examination table?
Well, yes.
Oh! And that's your otoscope too?

By this point I was equal parts in love and furious. I wanted a diagnosis. A prescription. An answer. I had taken the afternoon off from work because Eliana was too sick. Eliana hopped off the doctor's lap and happily played with toys on the floor, reading the ABC's off of some toy, again making the doctor pause and remark.

She looks absolutely perfect. It's a little virus. Tylenol three times a day and she'll be perfect.

And such is life with Happy Sad. My little bright light, totally dialed in to how to inflict the utmost pleasure. Until I open her gummy fruit pack from the wrong side. Or I give her the pink spoon instead of the blue. And all hell breaks loose.

I love those parenting books that tell you to just ignore a toddler's tantrum. How does one ignore that kind of ridiculousness? Eliana isn't really one to throw herself down on the ground and thrash about. It's not that simple. It's all vocal.

You NEVER do that mommy! Never Ever! You NEVER do that to me!

You mean I never open your gummy packet that was a special treat that I never should have broken down and bought for you at the check out because they were just sitting there, on special, those goddamn organic gummies?

NEVER mommy!

And perhaps at this very moment, after a four a.m. bedtime due to extreme pregnancy discomfort coupled with extreme pregnancy active mind, after fetching Happy way too many stalling snacks, reading too many books, singing too many songs, it's easy to vent a bit about the Sad side of our little spitfire.

But this is just a tiny blip. Like our weekend, when the spots went away and the energy returned and she found herself blissed out on a pony at her buddies birthday party or racing around the park for hours with a posse of children she adores. She's such a kiddo now. So down to play hard and not wonder where I am. I actually parked my large loveliness on a blanket in the sunshine and rapped with my girlfriends for two hours while Els ripped it up with the dudes on the equipment.

Last night our colleagues had a little shower for us. Eliana approached Baby Brother's gifts with maturity and an open-mind, helping me unwrap tiny blue and brown onesies. She's developing sweet rituals with him these days. Washing him multiple times in the tub. Singing him songs. Though tonight when Jeff asked what her what she was going to do when she met her brother she said, Throw him on the bed! with one of her wild eyed grins. Perhaps their newfound tackling funfests are not exactly the best for cultivating a gentle child.

I seem to be marooned on this island in my home. My island is calm. Mildly uncomfortable. A bit hazy. Extremely grounded. The rest of the crew (Lucy included) are amp-ed up, ready to wrestle, play chase, and talk extremely loudly. Ah. Thank god for this moment at the computer, headphones filling my space with beauty, no movement in my periphery. Perhaps that's why I stay up all night long. But then I have to take deep breaths to deal with the collective snoring of dog and husband because even in sleep, they never seem to be quiet. Of course, I deeply love that snoring cacophony, so rich in it's uniqueness, it's irony. I do love that all more than anything in the world. And even a large, exhausted woman needs to get goofy, remember to roll with it, because time is certainly not waiting for me to rest up. The adventure has fully begun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

a new day

Our phone rang at 6:30 this morning. Casey was in labor. Richard wanted me to get Leslie to pick Moana up for school. It was a quick, buisness-like call and I could hear the focus, the absolute moment-ness in his voice. I hung up covered in chills. It was finally happening. The light of a new day was rising from behind Mt. Jumbo. Another beautiful, clear, early spring day was upon our little valley. And a new life was finding her place among the mountains and trees.

While I stared at my phone trying to decide when to call Leslie, Richard called back. Ophelia was here. Again, I could hardly believe it. Without wanting to keep him, I had to ask. When did she go into labor, how did it go? Less than two hours. She shot right out. Moana woke up to her baby sister. It doesn't get much better than that.

And I'm covered in chills just thinking about the whole scene again. I'm filled with a sense of grace. A sense of the idea of positive intention. Casey did absolutely everything in her power to make this birth go the way she wanted it. She read every book. Prepared her mind. Thought every detail through clearly and thoroughly. She was wholly ready. And her body followed.

I love her so much already. I'm so very proud of my dear friend. A new day is here, a new and miraculous and gorgeous and perfect day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

mi cumpleanos

I turn 36 tomorrow. And it's totally okay. While I'm not in as much of a whoop whoop way as I usually am on my birthday, there's a peace about it all that I'm grooving on.

I took myself to yoga tonight. Now that I don't teach in the evenings, I actually have time to take class. I went on Saturday morning and had an awesome time. Tonight I was a bit more ambivalent, feeling drowsy after the day, wanting to hang on the floor with H.S. and play tea party. But I knew I would thank myself, so I hauled myself off the hard wood and headed out.

And about halfway through class I had this awesome this-is-your-life moment. I remembered when I was 24, when I first began my yoga practice. I was a first grade teacher. I was busy and stressed out. I had no commitments other than my job. My boyfriend at the time lived in Seattle, so what would have occupied my evenings was far away. My girlfriend and I got really into this yoga studio across town. We'd pile in my Honda (I think she was still a before her time L.A. biker...) and head to Sunset. The studio was tiny and urban. The peeps who hung there beautiful in that earthy, tattooed way. We were not so cool like that, but we both had a solid, strong practice and we could hang.

I wasn't at peace with myself at 24. I noticed all the other bodies in the room, the other outfits, wondered how I measured up. I hit the poses hard and wanted to look a certain way. It was a struggle to settle my mind during savasana. I was a million places, wondering how bad traffic would be on the way home, what drama awaited me at school the next day, would my boyfriend be home when I called that night? But that was how it was for me then. That's just how it had to be.

Tonight I had this awesome moment memory. I was in the front of the room. All god knows how many pounds of me. The studio has lots of natural light and windows that look out onto the funky building tops of Main Street. The sky was gray with a gentle, almost spring rain. As I made my own way through each pose, I felt absolutely in my body. Totally at peace with my unique place in my body, my unique place in the room. I realized that I was doing something absolutely, blissfully selfish.

Tonight's class had nothing to do with anyone else. It wasn't a class at my studio where I know everyone, in fact, for once in Missoula, I didn't recognize a soul in the class. I wasn't in a pre-natal class bonding with a bunch of other prego mamas, itching for connection. I wasn't in my basement with my girlfriends, leading them as we did for years, their presence encouraging me to keep up my practice. I wasn't in some regimented ashtanga class with all the hard cores up the road, wondering what it is about my personality that keeps me from waking at dawn to practice, why I never wanted to give up red meat.

I was just my self. My self in this body. Today.

I felt totally connected to my boy. Like I was giving him such a gift. A part of my whole self. A time when he didn't have to share me with Elie or Jeff or 33 second and third graders. I was so in tune with where he was as I moved through each pose. I'd feel him shift position with me, feel him weigh in one direction or the other.

I lay there in savasana, mind totally fixed on an image. A sunny day. A green field. Then after a few moments of sunlight and calm, Jeff and Eliana come into the picture. We're laughing in the grass. It's a perfect moment. Made even more so because our boy was there too. All of us giggling, totally at peace.

I felt affirmed again. This pregnancy, this birth, this baby -- it's all a new journey. It doesn't resemble the first experience because it can't. And maybe someday I'll have that moment where the parallels can be drawn. Like tonight in yoga when I could have been at Ahimsa in Silverlake. Totally selfish, but in a totally different self. It was like the grown up me looking down on the kiddo me thinking, hey, you came out alright. You just keep getting better.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I continue to flounder around in an attempt to do all the right things to prepare Eliana for her baby brother. At some point I stumbled upon some comment about reminding your toddler of when she was a baby -- going through her baby pics, etc -- so we've been doing a lot of that lately. In fact, her baby books have replaced the Bernstein Bears Go to the Doctor (thank the good lord). A random, early morning nesting project found me organizing all the pictures I've never done anything with into an old album so Els could flip through some more. As I went through these varied and disorganized packets of photos, I realized that I often had no clue if she was three months or six, eighteen or twenty. It's already all blended together. It's already so far in the past that I can't recount specifics. She's not even three.

So tonight after bedtime, I hit the old archives of this blog. And I am so filled with thanks for every single word I've written. Every detail. Every "bad" photo. Because none of it's bad. It's all alive and raw and honest and funny. What a gift to give myself. What a gift to give Eliana.

I just got sucked in around her first birthday. When she began to figure out new things -- walking, talking. As I began my own voyage of self-discovery, pushing my limits, getting my groove back.

It's so good for me to look at that time now. To look at myself as that strong, radiant woman. I'm feeling less than radiant these days. This afternoon as I was hoofing my enormous self around the park a lovely, middle aged lady passed me and said, You look simply beautiful. I did my same, sort of meek thank you that I give to people when they compliment me lately. I just do not feel remotely or even simply beautiful.

Every part of me feels big. I can't express myself the way I want to through my clothes because there are so few that actually fit. I love color and all I want to do do is wear black. My hair is like this giant fluffy disaster that seems to be growing out with the rest of me. I feel like a big, poofy goof with too many accessories.

But looking back at all these pictures, all these moments, I realize that this is all so damn temporary. And not just my size. These last moments of pregnancy. These last weeks of Eliana being the only one. Us as a family of three. Little boy is making sure I realize he's coming lately. He pushes down on my bladder likes it's nobody's business. He has these late night dance parties where I imagine him dancing like Mark Whalberg circa 1991 or something. Lots of arm waving. I think he's really cool.

These early spring days have been beautiful and after I picked Els up from daycare today, I decided to treat us both to cones at the Big Dipper. We walked up to the little window and I began to read the flavors aloud to Els. Without consulting me, she confidently answered the dude behind the counter's inquiry with, May I have a chocolate cone with rainbow sprinkles, please? Homie knows what she wants. Of course I had to try one of their flavors of the day, knowing that I'd end up ordering my favorite mint chocolate oreo, regardless. We sat on the benches in the sun and I watched Eliana savor every last lick of that chocolate. She took in all the other kiddos around us, commenting on their flavors, trying to make conversation. She talked about the different cars driving by, what she wanted to do next.

I did a deliberate stand still. I focused on the dark blue rings that hold her precious eyes. The spontaneous curls. The way chocolate ice cream was going up her nose. The way she only ate down one side of the cone while ice cream spilled precariously over the other.

And I'm so thankful that I have a place to record all of this. I simply would not be doing all of this in a journal. My handwriting would get crazy, I'd fall asleep, I'd leave out detail. So thank you dear Nici for showing me my very first blog (you set an incredible standard!). Thank you Nana for buying us this computer. Thank you me for never holding back.

Jeff just walked in and asked me what I was blogging about. I told him I was blogging about blogging. And then I said something like, This blog is f-ing awesome! I don't regret ever writing a single word! He said, You know I check the archives of your blog every week just to remember another detail. It really is awesome that you wrote all that down.

And this from a guy who does not hand out frequent compliments. Fully realized. I love these Friday night postfests. I vow to keep it rockin' and not take myself too seriously.

Tomorrow I begin my birthday weekend. The big 3-6. Sweetest Casey offered to straighten my hair for me (kinda obsessed with having my hair straight, as it is then the only part of me that isn't extremely round). Then we'll meet some homies for dinner. Maybe I'll take myself for a coffee treat in the morning. Or just have a lovefest with the crew at home. Anyway you cut it, weekend mornings are the best. And gray hairs, roundness and all, I should celebrate another year of this beautiful life.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I'm thrilled to report that my girl had a rockin' date with her BFF last night. Much to my great relief. Because Eliana hasn't been the sweet sauce, all love, all the time kinda girl she was the first two years of her life. Somewhere along the line the words don't and mine replaced all that 18 month old sweetness. What was once dreamy time spent watching her play with her buddies turned into frustration, even embarrassment as I watched her boss and cry, refuse to share. Last week after a long day and even longer afternoon I listened to her tell one of her oldest girlfriends to, just give me some space. Okay. So no one ever argued that she wasn't articulate. But I just want my old lover back.

After a lovey weekend at home, she seemed ready. She and Moana played as beautifully as they used to. Their games are hysterical and elaborate, filled with secrets and closed doors, laughter and weird, inside jokes. This allowed their parents to actually sit at the table and converse, enjoy dinner, enjoy perhaps their last evening of two families of three. Casey's due with little girl number two any day now. And I dutifully continue to follow in her footsteps. Her birth feels like a preview of sorts for me. She's been my little mirror into future pregnancy stages this time around.

And I am absolutely honored and thrilled because she has asked to me to be at her birth. I'm hoping she goes into labor on Saturday morning so I can be there for the whole thing. It is one of the more meaningful things that anyone has asked me to do. I want her birth to be perfect. I want to be there to do whatever I can. Watching the love between our girls mirror our love was so profound last night. These are such beautiful times, so alive and real.

These thoughts of birth, especially birthing at home are provoking my nesting instinct, causing me to indulge in all sorts of nesty things. Impromptu purchase of a new duvet and pillows. Fancy window coverings for our bedroom. Organized cupboards. Somehow I'm finding these little opportunities to celebrate this pregnancy, this birth.

The sun has been bright and bold in the sky the past few days, making anything feel possible. I've had time to sit on my deck with a book. Find quiet. Find space. This week finds me with my first week in years without evening commitments as I finally gave up my yoga classes til after little guy comes. Tonight as I was practicing alone I mourned not having that Tuesday date with my students. That class has consistently been a highlight of my week, a time when I always rise to the occasion of being my best self. But there was a liberation in giving it up as well. I know that it's time to embrace these changes in my body and just be. My ability to be graceful and agile has also come to a bit of a standstill. I know in my heart that I'm doing the right thing. The time to go inward, to settle and focus is here. It won't be here for long.